What happens when you use resin and nail polish together?
Confession time. I have this weird quirk about needing to buy stuff from the bargain bin of stores and try to use them in resin. It’s like I’m imagining myself on one of those cooking shows and have to use a specific ingredient in a dish. Except I do it with resin. Because I KNOW I’ll never win on a cooking show. 🤣
And dollar store nail polishes are the next contestant on this non-existent amazing resin survivor race runway show.
Now if you’re a resin nerd like me, keep reading. Otherwise, if you want the answer — just DON’T do it.
The basics of the two-part experiment went like this:
I mixed 1 ounce total of Resin Obsession super clear resin.
For Part A, I put approximately 5 ml of mixed resin into 4 different one-ounce plastic mixing cups. I added opaque polish colors to two of the cups, whereas I added clear polish with glitter to the other two cups.
For Part B, I poured the rest of the mixed clear resin into our domino size silicone mold. I poured drops of 4 opaque colors onto each cavity of wet resin. Unfortunately, the clear polish with glitter was too thick to pour.
Here are my charms shown with their corresponding polishes.
The nail polish did not want to mix with the resin. It immediately started clumping and these clumps did not dissolve.
Note: A few readers have suggested mixing acetone with nail polish to thin it out before including it in resin. While I haven’t tried it, if you do this, please know it may affect the curing and is flammable.
When I hold the charms up to the light, you can see there are flakes in them, especially in the one on the left.
The results of using clear nail polish and resin were awful. This nail candy demon turned the resin a disgusting color of amber-yellow. Lacquer will turn resin yellow, so clear nail polish likely has the same ingredients and properties. Definite fail.
Dripping nail polish on resin got me somewhat better results depending on the color.
The pink and red colors left pretty dots on the resin surface that matched their original colors.
The blue and teal nail polishes left some weird feathering. I would have liked these better if the color had been consistent like the pink and purples above.
So here is what I learned about using resin and nail polish together:
- 1. Mixing nail polish with resin is not an effective way to color resin. I’ll stick with resin colors to mix into epoxy.
- 2. Dripping it on wet resin can add color and interesting effects. But, I like using alcohol-based ink colors better. (See my ink drop pendant tutorial.)
- 3. Painting colored nail polish on cured resin is legit for coloring resin charms.
- 4. Clear polish should NEVER be used to color resin. After seeing it turn yellow quickly, I wouldn’t paint it on resin charms either.
If you want to see more of how I mixed resin and nail polish, you can watch the video:
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48 thoughts on “What You Must Know Before Using Nail Polish with Resin”
I really like the nail polish results. Have to try this.
Try using it with Gel polish. 🙂 You can get really cheap gel polish of ebay (they’re too lousy to use as proper nail polish) but they cure in UV light and so you can likely use it in some combination with Resin. You can also fill the mold up in gel polish and cure it entirely without resin.
Should i then just do the resin first and then paint with nail polish afterwards? Would that work?
Hi Victoria, when I’ve used nail polish to give a glossy finish, I haven’t been happy with the results. This article explains more: https://www.resinobsession.com/resin-frequently-asked-questions/how-to-polish-resin-different-ways-of-polishing-resin/
Good article. Frankly, why would an artist want to use nail polish to colour resin when there are so many good artist quality powders, inks and pastes available to colour resin? Why use an inferior product? The same goes for using things like eye shadow. Why would you even want to.
You’d want to because the nail polish and eyeshadow can be as low as $1 each rather than $12 or more for alcohol inks, pigment powders, etc. Some people simply cannot afford professional materials. That should not exclude them from enjoying this art form, and with a little experimentation to figure out how to make their accessible materials work it doesn’t have to. I’ll also point out that the only difference between pearlex powders and eyeshadow is packaging/marketing and a little filler like cornstarch. They function in the exact same way.
I’m all for experimentation. As long as it is safe, and cheap. I am obsessed with this form of art but the cost of materials has held me back. My other obsession is unusual insects, and mounting them in resin shapes, to preserve them and use them as decoration. Thank you for all this information. Toni, Australia.
Hi Toni, I get it. Working with resin can get expensive quickly! Have you seen this article? https://www.resinobsession.com/resin-resin-resin/10-ways-how-to-save-money-when-using-resin-resin-money-saving-tips/ . It might give you some ideas on what you can do.
Hi Toni I’m from Sydney. You can buy casting resin from Bunnings at a very good price but it is harder to use the catalyst comes in a concentrated form and is measured in drops. Make up a couple of experiments once you work out your formula its straight forward it has an an advantage as you can speed up set up time by adding an extra drop or two. Good luck
I’ve also used dollar-store pearl eye shadow in my resin. Works like a charm! I’m wondering how to seal the bottom of my skulls (besides using resin), and was wondering what the best UV top coat nail polish would be best and last a long time?
I use nail polish all the time 3 drops w 50 ml of either hardner or resin and mix througly before adding the other and if I dont like the color or not brigjt enough I ad it by a drop till happy but dont do it in dixie cups bc it will eat thru the bottom alot if not 60% of my projects I use n 1 to 3 colors that r just nail polish or w colorings too ….maybe its the brand you use i noticed the cheap dollar store nail polish doesnt paint you nails well it to watery and sux I can only imagine why but thats probably why it didnt work 4 u but I use revelon in kaoki and anything from walkmart wand walgreens work I use even the jelly highlighter and blushes at Walgreens in a lil plastic thing. All look beautiful
I have used nail polish for years to paint the edges of the photos I put inside bezels and cover with resin. I love the way a thin outline of chrome or golden glittery polish sets off the image inside the resin. I have never had any of them turn yellow or go off color in over 4 years. I have examples up on my facebook and etsy pages for Glitzy Gull – it really adds a nice touch.
I agree absolutely with Jade here. Besides which, it can be really interesting to experiment, provided you are sensible of course, with different media and see the results. It can be an education in itself. Additionally, someone somewhere started out and discovered all the best and ‘simplest’ methods by experimentation in the first place…..now where did I put those out-of-date food colourings ……….
I know you said the results were awfull with the clear varnish but i think it looks nice. Well worth a try for sun catchers perhaps?
So nice of you to say that. 😉
So glad I found this page. I just used a metallic nail polish to paint the sides of a wood knot hole. I let it dry and then filled, almost to the top, with colored resin. I plan to finish with a clear coat on top tomorrow. Hoping it looks like it did when I left it.
So maybe mixing isn’t the best use. Maybe layering would work…
I have been using clear nail polish as a glaze on matte resin to put a shine on it, when I was out of my “good stuff”, and no complaints of yellowing (yet!). I like the color yours turned, it’s sort of like amber.
It works great for painting the back. Don’t thin polish with acetone, thin it with Orly nail polish thinner.
I have been using nail polish with resin now for a while. I don’t put in the resin though. I dip cured resin shapes in nail polish and water as in when you dip nail in a bowl to get a swirling effect. I have been getting exciting results and customers love them!
Usually use 3 colors in shallow bowl for dipping with nail polish. I also like the color glaze.
I have been thinking of using nail stamps on some of my resin pieces. Thank you for this and thanks to all who posted the positive results of painting cured resin with nail polish. This will add a whole new dimension to my work.
I have some tiny bottles of ink from my older printer, is this alcohol ink and can I use it in resin.
I don’t know. I am not familiar with printer ink.
I wouldn’t recommend using plain printer ink in resin. When I experimented with it, it did not work out. It cause a bubble to form around the ink and once the resin cured I had pockets with wet ink in the resin. It was a disaster.
Oh no, Shana!
Wow I’d be interested in the answer to that also. Just curious
I Love the nail polish idea!! I have a sinful colors brand in purple at Walmart. Love deep dark colors! So I’m now Curious Mrs Katherine have U tried to: 1)Add a thin layer of resin, let it cure 2) Add the nail polish 3) I’d do that hot pink U used with MY sinful purple,& swirl ‘em with a toothpick, let dry!! 4)& finally do a 3rd coat of resin & cure, maybe add a-bit glitter too as it cures. & you’re done! Have U thought of that? Let resin cure, then do polish Katherine? I’ll hope to Hear from U.👍🏼
I haven’t tried that, but it’s a neat idea!
If I embed an artifact painted with nail polish, would the polymer resin dissolve or have a yellowing effect?
It might. I depends on how hot your resin mixture gets.
I attempted to mix nail polish and resin and while mixing other cups of color (not nail polish) and got to the nail polish and resin to mix up that color, the bottom of the plastic cup fell out from the reaction that had occurred. I still want to try it but we’ll see!
what about using nail polish as a paint. with so many colors i would think it could be interesting to use as such
has anyone ever used acrylic paint ( like the kind you use to paint on canvas with ) mixed in with resin? and if so what were the results?
Hi Robyn, I talk about the results of using acrylic paint to color resin in this article: https://www.resinobsession.com/resin-resin-resin/how-to-color-clear-epoxy-resin/
Oh Katherine, I love how you have a resin response to everything. Like there isn’t a resin question you haven’t already posed and answered – if even just for yourself. You’re fantastic! 🥰
Oh shucks. *wink*wink*
Hi Katherine, just starting to play with resin and was wondering how emollient beauty products like lipsticks and cream makeup and blushes would go being encased in resin? Would they have issues in regards to degeneration? Wouldn’t be using them to try & color the resin. Any advise, much appreciated. Hope all safe & well over there
Hi Michelle, I don’t know how well lipstick and creams will do in resin. Resin doesn’t like oils, so it may separate.
Thanks Katherine for the advice about possible separation. Might give it a trial & let you know how it goes. Thanks for taking the time to respond.
You’re welcome. Good luck!
Something to keep in mind when experimenting with dollar store products is the age of the product. I know they typically are not given a “shelf life” but older bottles of polish that have been sitting for a couple years require more mixing time to ensure all of its compounds blend thoroughly. The better mixed, the better the polish is able to blend into and with the resin. Similarly, to the way it looks when you put it on your nails. Old polish doesn’t look near as nice as a brand-new bottle of polish or one that has been appropriately shaken/mixed.
So, there will always be some level of uncertainty due the unknown factors of dollar store products, i.e. age.
Regarding eyeshadows: less expensive products are made with a lower amount of base pigment so the quality of the color is reduced and has more “fluff” or “filler-like compounds” that cost less than 100% pigment, which reduces the color quality and because we really don’t know what the fillers are made of, they may cause a negative reaction when mixed with a foreign compound such as resin.
Just the first thing I thought of when you mentioned bargain bin…I LOVE bargain bins and I too never leave a store before checking them out. LOL You just never know when you’ll find that treasure, right? Nice article, thanks for absorbing the expense to conduct such an experiment…saves the readers! Nice of you to share. 🙂
Can nail dip powders be used to color resin?
That’s a great question Faith! I don’t know. I haven’t tried those.
I’m going to try this. They want WAY too much money for hot pink powder pigments online.
i use transparent resin, let cure. when done add nail polish in the back. when dried, add an other layer of resin. that is my best use of nail polish. use contrasting nail polish color in the back to highlight whatever you put in your resin…
Hello, I’m new at making resin crafts and was wondering how to get tiny bubbles out? I’ve seen use a torch but what kind of torch and when do you use it, after it’s hardened?
Hi Yvonne, I’m sorry this is happening to you. This article helps with getting bubbles out of resin: https://www.resinobsession.com/resin-frequently-asked-questions/resin-bubbles/
I have a somewhat different question. Because they don’t mix well, do you think a clear nail polish could be used to protest photos before putting them in the resin? To work as a form of protection? I was wondering about that because I usually don’t work with resin and don’t want to but ~300ml of Mod Podge to use once ;P
Hi Margaret, because the nail polish turned yellow in resin, I wouldn’t use it to seal papers either.